August is supposed to be a quiet month in the world of local authorities with few committee meetings but it never quite works out that way. It is a time for working on much more local issues like our ongoing concerns about our local roads.
The worst road in our area in terms of damaged surface is Marsh Lane which runs from Hazelbury Bryan through to Stoke Wake. I have been nagging Highways for a date when the promised resurfacing will take place. I now understand that this is unlikely until next year as it needs a major work-over which will cost just short of £250,000. Although a country lane it is a road which actually forms part of an important rat-run down to jobs in Poole and Bournemouth via the top of Bulbarrow. It also receives a considerable hammering from heavy farm vehicles. I have just been reading a letter from a now retired Councillor colleague published in the Blackmore Vale Magazine calling for all heavy vehicles to be banned in the country. Interesting to see how she might believe that could be accomplished as the countryside is not just a suburb, it is a working industrial site in many ways, and even suburbs have to have large delivery vehicles from time to time.
Just after the County election in May the Highway’s Department reallocated responsibility for highways in my Division to a gentleman called Paul Starkey, who is our new Community Highways Officer. Paul is has a lot of experience of working on Highways and also of using our local roads. He is steadily making himself known around the patch and when you report a roads issue on dorsetforyou or via a phone call to County Hall, that report immediately appears on Paul’s iPad for attention. In reality repairs have to be prioritised according to seriousness but the team do endeavour to sort matters out as quickly as possible. Overgrown pavements, footpaths and verges, flooded drains and other problems can also be reported via dorsetforyou or by phone.
I have just been reading an article about yet another initiative of the Prince of Wales. A charity established by Prince Charles has unveiled over £540,000 of grants to 18 new rural projects.
The Prince’s Countryside Fund is supporting community shops in Crowle, Beckbury, Trawden and Great Paxton. Funding has also been awarded to Pub is the Hub, and the Bird in Bush pub in Northumberland National Park. Other grants include funding for training projects in Suffolk and Cornwall, and to support the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue. Established by the Prince of Wales in 2010, the fund has given over £8.5 million in grants to improve the quality of rural life over the past seven years. It is something which could merit closer consideration in our rural area.
A reminder of what I said in my last report – although the bus companies have lost the subsidy for some rural routes, and therefore decided to discontinue them, Nordcat is open for business and looking to replace some of those services with a more personal one. As a Community Transport organisation it is not generally able to put on daily public bus services but is running weekly services to Dorchester, Sherborne and Yeovil from the rural villages. Nordat also prepared to consider other services to other towns if there is sufficient support. Nordcat’s Manager is Helen Reed on 01258 472164 or 01258 473154. Journeys have to be booked in advance with Helen because the bus will pick you up at your door. Pensioners bus passes are accepted but it costs £5 to register with the scheme each year.
Anyone driving into Stur. will hopefully have noticed that we have almost finished the repainting of the railings along the A357 and in Bridge Street. The work completed so far has been undertaken by Community Payback (CP), a scheme whereby offenders make reparation to the community by giving their labour. We have now reached the point where CP can do no more because of health and safety constraints so the remaining work will be undertaken by we Town Councillors and any other volunteers we can find. We still have to ensure we are safe because a by-election would cost a lot of money. The aim is to get the project completed before the Cheese Fair brings thousands of people into town. Our shops have also been smartened up by their owners and tenants and we are trying to encourage more interesting window displays in some of them – maybe we should do a competition.
I have been trying to do my bit to encourage people to come and explore our beautiful countryside by taking long walks on most days, taking photographs of our lovely scenery as I go and putting them on my Councillor’s facebook page. To my amazement some walks have had over 500 people look at them and have been commented on from people as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
The North Dorset Business Park at Rolls Mill, on the Lydlinch side of Stur. is now in private ownership, the last of the plots having been bought by Rose Engineering who plan to encourage a range of businesses to come and occupy buildings which Roses will design and build for them. These businesses need to be ones which provide employment and an ambition is to have a prestige Enterprise Centre on the front side, offering office space to predominantly digital enterprises, in other words people who earn their living from computers. In North Dorset there are 9000 or so businesses but many of these are one-man operations, based at home. The Enterprise Centre, and other buildings on the estate will offer space for those who want to grow. We, the Economy Board of Sturminster Newton, are also considering how we can offer serviced office space to small businesses in Sturminster itself, possibly using one of the former bank buildings.
Surgeries in September:
Saturday 2nd September 9.30 a.m. – Glanvilles Wootton Village Hall; 10.30 a.m. Pulham Village Hall; 11.30 The Exchange, Sturminster Newton.
Saturday, 16th September 9.30 a.m. Hazelbury Bryan Village Hall; 10.45 a.m. Okeford Fitzpaine Village
Preferred e.mail address – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone 01258 472583
Post – Elvlyn Cottage, Glue Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2DJ
Twitter @paulinebatstone Facebook Page Councillor Pauline Batstone